World of Titans > One Dark God Deserves Another
One Dark God Deserves Another
From high above the Scandish Plains, crisscrossed by rivers of blood that splayed in all directions across the cold, blighted land, the Goddess watched her children and their playthings.
She was equal parts imperious queen and empathetic counselor, in all ways mother to the race of Titans. When they had a problem to discuss, her door was open. When they were in trouble, she rushed to their rescue. When they misbehaved, she meted out swift and unambiguous punishment.
She was Tyr, and the Spire was the throne from which she ruled the World of Titans. A massive tower, a spike of gleaming obsidian floating high among the perpetually darkened clouds of Scande's sky, the Spire afforded Tyr a commanding view of all within her domain. Nothing that occured on her world escaped her notice. In this way, she kept the Titans empowered, Bleu deposed and weakened, and the Dragon's children from gaining too much clout.
Tyr had seen the portals when they appeared, but dared not venture near them. Instead she had her agents, the Chimera, keep a close watch to see if anything emerged from beyond them. The Chimera noted the arrival of a single human spy, but lost him soon after he emerged and did not see him leave again. They brought this news back to Tyr, who considered carefully the prospect of other inhabited places beyond the portals.
And this was when, much to Tyr's surprise, a murder of ravens appeared, swarming its way out from one of the portals near the dominion of Razboynik the Gryphon.
The ravens flocked together, circling around in the skies over Scande, as if scouting. Their behavior -- and something more, something perceptible only to a God -- lead Tyr to believe that these were no mere birds. Tyr sensed that as the ravens flew in circles around Scande, they were observing, learning. Spying. After a day of just watching the ravens fly aimlessly, Tyr decided that she had abided the flock's presence in her domain long enough, and so commanded Razboynik himself to take wing from his lair and dispose of the meddlesome creatures.
The great beast stepped to the ledge of his aerie, his enormous talons crunching earth and stone beneath him as he walked. His great black-feathered wings spread, and his red-crested head craned round to scan the skies. With one powerful flap, the Gryphon was airborne. In the villages of Scande down below, men and women and children rushed to hide at the sight of the Gryphon's shadow ripping its way over the earth.
But today, Razboynik was not hunting his mortal subjects. His sharp eyes caught sight of his quarry, and he rolled away, turning wide and circling round to come upon the flock of ravens from behind. He held his wings aloft, ceased their beating, gliding easily so that he could creep upon the small birds with as much stealth as possible. He'd had it in mind to line them up into one single use of his deadly screech, destroying them all with a single blow.
The ravens were craftier than the Gryphon had given them credit for, however; the birds waited until Razboynik had gathered up his strength to unleash a blast, and then scattered just as the beast gave its cry. The waves of sonic destruction echoed across Scande, announcing to all for miles around that the Gryphon was in the air... but the murder of ravens that had been Razboynik's chosen prey had not been harmed. Not a single one.
The birds converged on the Gryphon, overtaking him quickly with sharp jabs from their beaks. Razboynik howled in surprise, beating his wings furiously and backing away. Razboynik swung wildly with his foretalons, but the birds were too small to be effectively fought and there were so many, attacking him all at once in a confused mass, that it was all the beast could do to protect his eyes from being gouged out.
Panicking, the Gryphon folded in his wings and dropped from the sky. He rolled and twisted, in the process shedding the ravens that clung to his feathers and fur, and when the birds were gone the Gryphon quickly spread his wings again and caught the air. With haste, he flapped his way toward the Spire to make a report to Tyr -- knowing full well that the ravens were following close behind.
Leading the murder of ravens behind him, Razboynik rose higher and higher into the sky, coming at last to a landing at the top of the great Spire. The Gryphon bounded on all fours toward the great Throne of Tyr; a comical sight to any that might have been present, seeing the enormous Gryphon of Scande cowering behind the form of the small, red-haired human girl that was seated on the throne.
Tyr rose -- hovering -- into the air as Razboynik returned. But the ravens didn't follow him, or even make any sign that they would attack either the Gryphon or his mistress. Instead, they coalesced and crowded together, swarming into each other in a large, black, indiscernable mass. Then altogether they stopped moving, and there was the unexpected flourish of a heavy black cloak.
The ravens had come together to form a single creature; a man, of a kind. He had six arms and three faces spaced equidistantly across his head. The six-armed man was dressed all in black robes trimmed with gold cord, of material and workmanship that neither Tyr nor Razboynik had seen before.
Razboynik, protective of his goddess, made ready to pounce the newcomer, but Tyr held the Gryphon at bay with an outstretched hand. She felt something when she looked upon the six-armed man... a connection, perhaps. Or perhaps it was a source of great power.
"You are the Goddess of Desire, I assume?" the six-armed man said, clasping two of his hands together and bowing respectfully.
When the man spoke, it was in no language that either Razboynik nor Tyr were familiar with... yet they understood him all the same.
"That is what some call me," Tyr replied -- also in her own language, yet entirely understood by the six-armed man all the same. "I am the Goddess of Desire, and of Destruction. The Granter of Wishes, and the Bringer of Discord. My name is Tyr. And this is my world you are trespassing upon."
"I would submit to your judgment, mighty Tyr," the six-armed man said, "But first perhaps you might listen to why I have come to you. Perhaps you might hear an explanation for the mysterious portals that have opened up across your world."
Tyr watched the six-armed man carefully. She found it disconcerting to look at him as he spoke, knowing that she could not see what expressions played on his other two faces.
Not waiting for Tyr's response, the man produced, from somewhere in the folds of his cloak, an engraved gold tablet.
"This is one of the Tablets of Hara'ish," the six-armed man said. "Some time ago I sent a servant of mine through the portal to retrieve the complete set for me. The Hara'ish tablets contain a number of predictions pertaining to the future of your world, mighty Tyr..." The man suddenly pointed a finger in the direction of the Gryphon. "And one, in particular, on this tablet I hold here, foretells of imminent doom for your beastly servant."
"Lies," Razboynik snarled.
"Perhaps not," Tyr said. "I know of the Hara'ish tablets. But they have been in the keeping of the sa'Bleu since they were first scratched. And Bleu's lingering power has kept them hidden from me..." Tyr sat back down in her throne. "You have my attention. I would like to aquire these tablets."
"For my work, I must keep the first two," the six-armed man said. "But this one I can part with today, and the rest will be yours when my agents have finished deciphering them in full."
"In return for...?" Tyr asked.
The six-armed man smiled. "Introductions first. Perhaps they are somewhat overdue. My name is Sung Chiang. Patron of Thieves and Divine Police Officer, the Deft God. Like you, I am a deity. Unlike you, I am not the ruling power in my own world."
"How sad for you," the Gryphon said, with a snicker.
"But that shall change," Sung Chiang said. "I have come to know of a prophecy, one that has foretold the opening of the portals that join our two worlds, and which has further promised great power..." Sung Chiang looked at Tyr pointedly. "On your own, you know you cannot subdue Bleu and the Dragon God forever. But to join with me, as it is foretold in my prophecy, is to share in the spoils of a great conquest that will span all worlds. The prophecy has shown me forming a dark council of divinities, leading a grand army and using the portals to exert our control. I am here now to extend a hand in friendship to you... offer you the first seat on this dark council."
"Let me be sure we understand each other," Tyr said. "All I must do is pledge alliance with you... and you will give me the tablets of Hara'ish?"
"That and more," Sung Chiang said. "Our alliance will be unending, mighty Tyr. Once we have gathered sufficient forces, we can establish a new order across all worlds, with no place for our enemies to hide and gain succor. It will be as I have foreseen."
"Very well, we're allies," Tyr said, impatiently. Then, with outstretched hands: "Give me the Tablet now?"
Sung Chiang paused. "Perhaps a gesture of good faith on your part first," he said. "Send one of your minions with me for a time, so that I can learn more about your world, and teach this emissary all that I know thus far of the prophecy. That will be what you exchange, directly, for the tablet."
Razboynik laughed. "Not feeling especially confident in your prophecy, are you? Where is this alliance of yours if you cannot trust?"
"Prophecy or no, trust must be built," Sung Chiang said. "You will see when I furnish you with the tablet that I am sincere in my dealings."
"Then why the hostage?" Tyr asked.
Sung Chiang smiled. "Do we no longer have a deal?"
The Goddess rested idly on one of the armrests of her throne. The image was somewhat comical: appearing as a young girl not older than ten, her throne was clearly made for a being much larger.
"The mortals of my world have become... troublesome, of late," Tyr said. "The sa'Bleu continue to resist. The Prophets are rumored to have survived the wrath of Aluqah. And now even the peasants are taking up arms against my brood."
Razboynik averted his eyes as Tyr mentioned the peasants. It was true: a small army of mere mortals had begun fighting back against the Gryphon's enforcers. Razboynik was greatly shamed that his Goddess had taken note of his failures -- shamed and somewhat afraid that he might suffer for it in the end.
"If this alliance of yours will ultimately help me to crush these pests once and for all, then you need not fear my whims." Tyr sat up straight. "I will accept the first seat on your dark council."
Sung Chiang's smile spread across all three of his faces. "Excellent. Now, once you have appointed your emissary, I shall take my leave and the first tablet will be yours."
Tyr chuckled. "'Emissary,' is it?... Very well." The goddess snapped her fingers, and instantaneously a human figure appeared before her throne. He was taller than a normal man, yet still dwarfed by the Titans who served the Goddess of Desire. He was clad head to foot in thick black plate armor, styled with draconic themes and imagery. A coarse, wiry black beard spilled out from under the visor of his helmet, and his eyes glowed a sickly green such that they were visible even with the visor lowered.
"My son, the Count Tugarin," Tyr said, "He will go with you to your realm, Sung Chiang. Be warned: if any harm comes to him, I will know it immediately."
Sung Chiang bowed low. "As I have said, Tyr, trust must be built. I promise that your son will return to you with tales of my grand hospitality."